Primo is a tangible programming interface designed to teach children ages 4 to 7 basic programming logic without the need for literacy. No literacy? No reading? Pwah! Kids are just handed everything in life. On silver spoons or, in Primo's case, a wooden interface board. What about me? I'm terrible at reading! Particularly things like instructions for use and No Parking signs. Why hasn't anyone created a playset that uses shapes, colors, and spacial awareness to create the tactile and magical experience of learning programming logic for me?
Superficially, Primo functions as a puzzle. It consists of a boxy, arduino-controlled robot called Cubetto, a wooden circuit board that serves as the programming interface, and a set of instruction blocks (Forward, Left, Right, and Function) to play the role of the code. The goal is to guide Cubetto to a destination playing piece--a house, a big cube, or some other object of the child's choosing laid out on a flat surface--by creating a queue of instructions for him to follow. Different children will solve each puzzle differently, as there's not just a single solution or acceptable path to destinations.
That's where the sneaky, subliminal effects of Primo kick in. Its brand of problem-solving, the creation of simple algorithms within a distinct set of rules, ingrains the fundamentals and logic of real programming in children's brains. And obviously the kid who does the best at Primo will eventually become The One and be tasked with teaching all the other kids how to stop bullets with their hands and do Kung Fu with one arm and wear black sunglasses and never make a single facial expression.
Primo recently saw success on Kickstarter, and has a limited number of first-run playsets still available for pledging (anticipated delivery is August 2014). Each set includes Cubetto the Robot, the circuit board, and 16 instruction blocks.